New Research Pinpoints How Debt Leads to Depression

Libby Kane

debt and depressionWe can probably all agree that debt is depressing, but new research tries to quantify exactly how much.

The Financial Security Project at Boston University has published research by Lawrence Berger, an associate professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, which found that for every 10% increase in the dollar amount of a person’s debt, his or her depressive symptoms increase by 14%.

But there are some caveats. For instance, the research found that debt isn’t necessarily tied to clinical depression–just the day-to-day blues experienced by otherwise healthy people. Plus, the more dramatic psychological effects were shown to come from short-term debt, meaning debt that comes from credit cards, past-due bills and payday loans. Long term debt (also known as “good debt,” like student loans or mortgages) did not seem to have the same effects.

It should go without say that those experiencing clinical depression should seek professional help, but if you have debt that is making you blue, make sure you have a plan to tackle it. Our checklist “I Want to Create a Plan for Paying Off Debt” can help you, as can our free Get Out of Debt Bootcamp.